Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.1,2Obesity is the result of caloric imbalance (too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed) and is mediated by genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.3,4
Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.3
- Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.5
- Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.3,6
- Obese youth are more likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore more at risk for associated adult health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.6
- Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007–2008. JAMA 2010;303(3):242–9.
- National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2004 with Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans [pdf 3.8M]. Hyattsville, MD; 2004.
- Daniels SR, Arnett DK, Eckel RH, et al. Overweight in children and adolescents: pathophysiology, consequences, prevention, and treatment. Circulation. 2005;111;1999–2002.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity. Rockville, MD: Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General; 2001.
- Freedman DS, Zuguo M, Srinivasan SR, Berenson GS, Dietz WH. Cardiovascular risk factors and excess adiposity among overweight children and adolescents: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Journal of Pediatrics 2007;150(1):12–17.
- U.S. Surgeon General. Overweight and Obesity: Health Consequences. Rockville: MD; 2001.